Chillin' with chili

Becky Vargo • Aug 28, 2017 at 8:00 AM

FERRYSBURG — Kirk and Gina Olson took top honors in the 11th Annual Smith’s Bayou Chili Cookoff on Saturday. Their entry also won the Meek & Mild category.

The Cecelia Lane event was a fundraiser for Autism Support of West Shore.

Organizer Jo Ann Grotemat said all of the chilis were so good this year that winners came out on top by only a point or two.

Winning People’s Choice was a white chili provided by Paul and Sara Heacox, together with Nate and Leann Derks.

Adam and Kelly Debrowski took first place in the white chili category, while Tom and Carolyn Devlin of Grand Rapids were the winners of the Hot & Spicy category.

Ten chilis were available for tasting during the Saturday afternoon event that also featured music and prizes.

Tasting started at noon and was supposed to last until 3 p.m., but the chili was gone by about 2 p.m. Participants were required to make five gallons of chili for the event.

Co-organizer Rebecca Hopp said they had another great turnout and were hoping that it raised several thousand dollars for their charity.

They ran out of chili early, probably because they had fewer cooks than usual, she said.

Matt and Andrea Snyder rode bicycles and brought their children, Reagan, 4, and Colin, infant, to the cookoff.

“This is our favorite thing to do,” Andrea said of going to family friendly local events.

“I think this is my new favorite event,” Matt added.

Judge Carolyn Devlin said that she and her husband, Tom, were judges last year, but decided to return as cooks this year.

“We cooked and they kept coming back for more,” she said. “We’re already out 5.5 gallons,”

Ako Poel and Nancy Manglos have been sharing a table at the event for 10 years.

“I’ve won once,” Poel said. “We don’t really win, but that’s not why we do it. It’s a lot of fun and it’s for a good cause.”


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